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What Black Lives Matter Movement means for Africa’s Children


Over the past weeks, citizens in cities across the world, including here in Nairobi, took to the streets, organizing and mobilizing massive protests against racism and police brutality. Kenya and other African nations are showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US as we too are hard-pressed for a much-needed conversation about unlawful and extrajudicial killings and other acts of violence perpetrated by the police. We watch and recognize variations of our own struggle with racialized systems and its effect on our country and children. We recognize that Black lives matter worldwide.


Our country holds a long history of policing with excessive force going back to its colonial roots. Here in Kenya, citizens, including women and children from the black poor households are often profiled and targeted by police. This however is not the case for those whose wealth, race and class protects them from police brutality. Children are taught from a young age that the police are meant to protect and help them, however when they constantly see the police being perpetrators of violence towards their community, it often leaves them confused and with long lasting negative trauma. Women are also often subjected to police brutality through sexual assault or harassment when in police custody, and even at times in the comfort of their home. These instances can result in the endangerment of children under the woman’s care. The arm of government that is meant to maintain law and order and took an oath to protect its citizens, has become the main organ of oppression and violation of human rights with low to no accountability.


Ethnicity and tribalism run deep in Kenyan culture and history, and the trend is getting worrisome by the day. Like racism, it has resulted in feelings of tribal superiority and entitlement, contributing to deep societal inequality and injustices. Social, cultural, and political differences have fueled this system of the divide with children usually caught in-between. When a child witnesses their parents or community members being treated with discrimination due to their tribe, it impacts their identity contributing to feelings of unworthiness and issues with self-esteem. A child who is being discriminated against because of their tribe or social class will feel less connected, develop anxiety and harbor hatred for the perpetrators, this can lead them to be less active in class and withdraw from other activities. Children need to be taught to embrace diversity and exist well with one another irrespective which tribe one hails from. Tribalism should not be condoned, and our leaders need to take proactive measures in protecting tomorrow’s leaders and ensuring that peace prevails.

While many are pointing a finger at the western countries and judging their racial systems, three fingers are pointing back at us. It is crucial that African governments take responsibility for ensuring a safe and sustainable environment for its people. We need care for our citizens and children and protection of our civil rights because all black lives matter.

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